Good Ol’ Boys

Today my heart is broken.

My heart is broken for what passes today as a Biblical man.

My heart is broken for what is going on in the Southern Baptist Convention.

My heart is broken for what is going on in our leadership.

My heart is just plain broken.

I originally wrote this a couple days ago, but I had to sit on it and think, allow my righteous anger to dissipate a little. I feel confident now that this is what I need to say.

Let’s start with the two catastrophic events that have taken place this month that have got me thinking about manhood in the first place.

First off, the Houston Chronicle released an article recently documenting over 700 cases of sexual misconduct perpetrated by male pastors and volunteers in the Southern Baptist Convention over the last twenty years.

Seven.

Hundred.

Several dozen of these cases were swept under the rug, and the offending male leadership are still in positions of authority.

Secondly, last Wednesday, James MacDonald was fired for a litany of immoral behaviors. There is an audio recording of him saying immensely vulgar and obscene things about others in Christian leadership, and he has been accused of financial embezzlement and sexual misconduct as well.

Sadly enough, James MacDonald has written a Bible study entitled “Act Like Men”, one that I have used in a men’s ministry at OBU, as well as one that I’ve walked through with my father.

My heart is broken.

For change to come about, we need healthy practices of accountability in our churches. I’ve been thrilled to see the response from J.D. Greear regarding the horrors of all this sexual misconduct, in which he advocated for security measures and the full weight of the law in response to allegations that are made.

I thank God for such a response.

But, if history proves itself true, I’m afraid we will only hear of more moral failures among men of God in coming months.

So how do we combat this?

I believe we need to fundamentally change what we teach men about what it means to be a man of God.

This sadly is not the response of many people. Sadly, my Facebook is often full of posts from people claiming that men are being emasculated, that men are being ostracized, that men are under attack. While there may be some slight validity to this, Biblical manhood is not about machismo, shooting guns, and drinking beers.

Let’s look at what it is like.

Gentle Strength.

If there is one thing I wish men would understand, it’s this. Gentleness, meekness, is strength. Jesus modeled this perfectly (as He modeled everything), as He boldly stood for what is right, endured immense pain and suffering, and yet did the above with gentleness. He wasn’t loud. He wasn’t boisterous. He wasn’t arrogant. He was gentle.

Nor was he a sissy or a pansy.

He taught regularly about how He didn’t come to make peace. But. He also didn’t come to make war through physical bravado.

Gentleness is hard, anger is easier.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. – Matthew 5:5

I fight this all the time. Too often Facebook becomes an extension of my emotions, and I post out of anger instead of taking a deep breath and seeing all sides to every story. Just this week I had to take a post down that was nothing more than me angrily responding to something in my life.

I truly believe that in many communities and churches, men wouldn’t follow Jesus if He were here in the flesh, because they would find him weak. And gentle.

Teachability.

This is where sexism explodes into the conversation. I am not by any means advocating for what is oftentimes in our society a witch hunt for sexists, where every slight offense is drudged up into a violation of equal rights.

However.

I think we would be a bunch of bafoons if we didn’t acknowledge that sexism is oftentimes rampant in our churches and communities.

Sexism is this: If male leadership are the only voices being heeded while wise female leadership is being ignored.

There are women in my community that are wiser than me, smarter than me, and better leaders than me. They teach me what it means to follow Jesus and how to be a better leader myself. I need them in my life. I need their voices.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28

We have curated men who refuse to listen to any voice, whether it is male or female. We have created and raised up men who think they know best. Yet teachability is a key sign of Biblical manhood.

Submission.

This point and the previous one go hand in hand. Teachability requires humility.

True Biblical manhood includes submission as well.

There should be mutual submission in the home. Husband and wife.

Yes, I believe Scripture spells out that the man is head of the household. But that certainly doesn’t mean the man should be domineering, manipulative, and unwilling to listen.

I go to my wife about a whole lot. When I don’t, things don’t go so well.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

Men should also submit to King Jesus. Every day. We have men who don’t see Jesus that way. Jesus is for their wife and kids and for when they were children. Jesus blesses their work and home but He’s not their Savior. But you can’t have Him as your Savior if you don’t submit to Him as your Lord.

Holiness.

Cuss it up, drink those beers, watch football, and leave the parenting to your wife (my biggest pet peeve on earth is when I hear that fathers are ‘babysitting’ their own kids). God made you this way.

This is the message of some well-known books on manhood. Books written by Christian men.

What has happened is that we have made holiness not important.

Instead we have ingrained in our men the generational habits of vulgarity, alcoholism, and misogyny. I have been around countless men who break my heart with there consistent obscene talk and the way they’re no different than any man around them while claiming Christ.

There is nothing wrong with beer in moderation.

Nothing wrong with hunting.

Nothing wrong with watching football.

But as a man, what habits do you keep?

We have a country full of men who claim Jesus but open up a Coors Light more often than they open up God’s Word. We have men who know their way around a tool box but they don’t know how to follow Jesus in their day to day life.

They haven’t been taught.

Instead, they’ve been taught to perpetuate the belief that Jesus is for women, and men can be rough around the edges as much as they want.

These four things are what I’m teaching my male students.

These four things are what I’m going to teach my sons.

Gentle strength. Humble submission and teachability. Holiness.

Until we teach men to be true Biblical men, we will hear more and more moral failures.

Our churches don’t need “God and country” good ol’ boys, they need Biblical men.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

They Will Know Us By Our Hate?

I was not able to attend the SBC annual convention this year, since I’m now only TEN days away from getting married (whoa, that’s crazy) and decided I’d rather have time with my fiancee. Thankfully living in a world of technology, I was able to watch snippets of the convention after the fact online.

I know there are thousands of pastors and church leaders more qualified to speak into the situation, but I have decided to share a little bit of my heart in the wake of some things that I personally have seen.

Obviously, leading up to this year’s convention there has been a plethora of disheartening and discouraging circumstances regarding Paige Patterson and the ways that people were taking sides. I got somewhat involved in this conversation via a blog post and some private conversations with friends, but for the most part I stayed out of getting my opinions out there.

Despite all that took place leading up to the convention, all that I have heard about it and from it has been encouraging. I’ve read articles and tweets, watched videos and an incredibly powerful sermon from JD Greear. All that I’ve seen and read has been about the unity, the missionaries being sent out, and the way that the SBC is striving to make the gospel central again.

Then today Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States, came and spoke to the SBC. What was thought by many to be a speech where he would share his support of the SBC turned into a speech about the Trump administration’s success in political affairs, and how with the help of the SBC the Trump administration can make America great again.

This understandably was incredibly divisive. What the speech appeared to do was to solidify the false belief that to be Southern Baptist is to be Republican, or at least to be a Southern Baptist is to be someone who puts their hope in the United States government. Regardless of what you believe about Trump, whether or not you voted for him, I pray that all who claim allegiance to Christ would acknowledge that their hope according to Scripture should not be in the governments and leaders of man, but rather that their hope should be in their risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I believe that Scripture is clear that God appoints and dictates the leaders and governments of our world. They can be used by Him in great ways to strengthen the faith of His people through persecution or to bless His people with seasons of peace. That being said, salvation is not found in a government. Salvation is not found in a mortal man. It is true that God used kings in Scripture. That being said, these kings were residing over God’s people, a people that today is not in any one country, a people that today is under the ultimate authority and Lordship of Jesus Christ. My prayer is that we as followers of Jesus pray for our leaders, but we are not to be wholly allegiant to them.

Oops, I got a little carried away there.

Anyway, this speech led to divide. It led to yet again a fractured room where some stood and applauded and some sat dejected. What has been the most disheartening however is the conversations that I have seen on social media. I have seen some of the most hateful and un-Christlike speech from people in both camps so to speak, both generations.

I have personally read outspoken believers on Twitter chastising, criticizing, condemning, and villianizing those who were not overly elated at Pence’s speech. I have seen people on both sides of the classic Calvinism debate launch attacks at each other. That is something I’ve been caught in the middle of, accused before of not reading Scripture correctly if I’m not reformed (I am a three-point Roachest by the way, I believe in Pizza, Jesus, and the OKC Thunder). I have seen language unbecoming of a Christ follower being launched at another image bearer of God. There has been crass, vulgar, sexual (you read that right) language being spewed.

It is disheartening to see so much hate. It is also disheartening to see so much unintentional tear-downs. While the older generation appears to be way more in your face regarding how they feel about you, the younger generation’s disrespect of the older generation is much more subtle. In a world of social media, everyone wants to be the clown, everyone wants to be the man or woman with the wit and jokes (me, 80% of the time). I have seen grown men display their cynicism and jadedness for all to see. It is immensely discouraging because people are watching. The clap-backs, digs, jokes and the like even between friends on social media does ostracize those who believe differently even when not directed at them.

May we be men and women who think long and hard about what we say on social media. May we be men and women who think long and hard about what we say face to face. May we be men and women who do not allow secondary and tertiary matters of doctrine to drive a wedge between us. May we not be men and women known for our hate, but rather for our love. This is my desperate plea and prayer.

No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear… let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. – Ephesians 4:29,31-32 

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

Stormtroopers On Sunday

I opened up my Bible this morning, spending a little time in God’s Word and prayer before I started my day. Honestly it felt dry and monotonous. I was not struck by some amazing nugget of Biblical truth, I didn’t hear the voice of God crash into my bedroom, and I wasn’t moved to tears by the music I was listening to as I got ready to start my day.

When mornings like this happen, I am caught off guard by how prone I am to feeling like something is wrong since it was an uneventful morning in God’s Word. It causes me to question why in the world I would feel disappointed after a morning in intimacy with the Lord.

It all comes back in my opinion to the sensationalism that is blowing up in the Southern Baptist world.

I have seen firsthand a church that did a series through the sermon on the mount entitled “That’s What He Said”. I was aghast only to discover that they had just concluded a series through the life of David entitled “Game of Thrones” with the very graphics used to advertise the show being used to advertise the sermon series. Separate the fact that GOT is horrendously pornographic (just check out VidAngel filters for how much this is shown in seemingly every episode), and this is still an attempt to make the Scriptures exciting for people.

I have seen a church that had a Star Wars themed Christmas series, complete with dancing stormtroopers on stage on Christmas Day. I have seen a churches with announcements that say literally nothing about Jesus, God, Scripture, or discipleship when advertising for Sunday morning activities. I have seen a church that sought to draw people in with a big Super Bowl Sunday service complete with crotch-grabs and obscene jokes.

Again, I totally understand that we should make our church programming appealing to those who don’t have a walk with Christ, but I think there’s a completely different way to do that.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16 

It is not via our advertisements or our hip cultural connections that people are going to find lasting faith. They will find it in churches that live out their commitment to God, each other, and the community they find themselves in. We are woefully bad at this in some ways, and due to this, churches are having to sensationalize their activities every week in order to make up for the fact that the church isn’t committed to holiness or service.

Right now I’ve been taking the youth group I shepherd through the book of 1 Thessalonians, verse by verse. One thing that has become clear to me in my studies and that I’ve desired to communicate to my students is that the Thessalonian church was known everywhere throughout that region for their faith, hope, and love. They were known not for their hip cultural references, but for their faith. They were known not for having the fanciest church service in town that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but for their hope. They were known not for amazing emotional services, but instead for their love.

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. – 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 

The church was known for its commitment to the gospel message and for turning from idols. Man that gets my heart racing.

There is a better way. My heart hurts when I come to this realization that because we as the church aren’t being the church that we instead have to sensationalize everything because we think that’s the only way people will come.

Here’s what is dangerous about this. People come to our churches and experience sensationalized services, but then their devotional experiences are dry. They doubt their faith and then as adults even leave their faith because in our entertainment-saturated world they can’t find a church community that does just that. If they remain in church, they have church backwards. They go to be served and entertained instead of to serve. You know what is generally missing in this case, confession and repentance. There is not room for these historic Christian practices because there’s nothing less entertaining then admitting our sin to our small group, etc.

We’ve got to be pushing for something deeper than the sensationalism that characterizes the Southern Baptist church.

I see a generation rising up now that is abandoning the historic beliefs of the Christian faith. Instead they are wanting to do Christianity without any of the dying to yourself, church without the commitment, relationship with God without the call to holiness. The sensationalism of their youth has led them to want to be ‘authentic’ Christians who play around with sin instead of killing it. We need changes in the Southern Baptist church.

I am passionate about this because I’ve seen its affects in me. There is nothing sinful about being hip and relevant, I just caution us against it and question its ability to make lasting disciples of Jesus.

Thank you for hearing my ramblings.

In His Name,

Nate Roach